Right. Into battle. Luckily, I do not have to go through any details as the Boss over at EURef (who has been thoroughly fed up with me grousing and practically ordered me to write this blog just to get me off his back) has done so very effectively. Three cheers for the Boss.
In the meantime I have been having quite surreal arguments with people who have accused me of not knowing my facts (always a favourite one with those who believe any old bilge dealt out by politicians and the media); even more surreal ones with supposed eurosceptics who are over the moon with Cameron being so tough; and absolutely out of this world ones with people who actually think that Cameron's behaviour has put us on the same sort of footing as Switzerland.
Let's deal with the last of those first. Switzerland, as every schoolchild should know but as many an adult who feels that they need to comment on political matters does not, is not even in the EEA, let alone the EU. How does anything Cameron does or says short of getting us out of the European project put us on the same footing? Answers on a postcard, please.
Next: how can I be so nasty about Cameron who has done the right thing for once by vetoing the treaty. Ahem, what treaty? The Boss has written about it here. Has anyone seen this treaty? Of course not, because it does not exist. There is no treaty without an IGC and we have not had one of those. So far as anyone can tell, there is no draft treaty even, as Gisela Stuart says in the Evening Standard, but, in any case you cannot veto a draft treaty.
Mind you, this is not the first time the Boy-King has come up with comments about a European Council that seemed to be at odds with communications from that Council. Then, as now, hacks and politicos refused to find out anything. We shall see what the Council communique will say when it is published but I do not think it will say anything about a treaty being vetoed because the Council is not the body that decides or even discusses treaties. Someone should tell Cameron so he should give his fantasies some sort of a reasonable grounding. Then again, given how easy it is to fool a large number of people, why should he bother?
So, the Boy-King has not vetoed any treaty. What has he done? He has allowed Merkozy and the others to go ahead with far greater speed than they even dared to hope with a complete reconstruction of the eurozone, that aims to create a fiscally integrated bloc at the heart of the EU, which will be able to pass any legislation through QMV that it might want to.
So far from repatriating powers, which can be done only through a new treaty that the Boy-King has rejected (not vetoed, just rejected) he has lost any possibility of vetoing whatever speedy conclusions will come out of the forthcoming negotiations for a new agreement.
The assumption was that a full IGC will not be convened till 2013. Agreement, let alone subsequent implementation would be very difficult and Cameron would have the right to veto whatever treaty is agreed on. Or, he could bring it back and let Parliament throw it out; or he could activate the referendum lock and then veto it as we would most probably win a referendum on a new treaty.
Instead we shall have a hastily cobbled agreement that will incorporate everything Merkozy and Rumpy-Pumpy want and that will be passed early next year if the eurozone survives that long. The notion that a new agreement will be any more effective in imposing fiscal discipline on the likes of Greece, Italy or France than any of the previous ones is laughable. What it will do, as Allister Heath wrote on Thursday, is to create a bloc that will be able to force any legislation they want through. That famous financial transaction tax from which Cameron is supposed to have saved the City? It will go through when the eurozone will want to destroy anything outside itself to save its own stagnating economy.
In fact, having got what they wanted from Cameron, Merkozy will almost certainly try to force through the few remaining bits of legislation that will destroy the City. Let's face it, this government does not care about the City and does not want to upset the colleagues in Brussels. Allister Heath again:
Of course, a revolution was required in the City after the mad bubble. Many of the reforms since 2008 have been good, including getting banks to hold more capital, be more liquid and cut their leverage. Some have even been excellent. The move to introduce resolution schemes and living wills to allow even the biggest banks to fail in a controlled way – more advanced in the UK than elsewhere – will help banish bailouts for ever.The outcome of the last two days' shindig in Brussels does not alter any of that.
But there have also been lots of job-destroying, stupid and unnecessary policies, punitive taxes and a relentless stirring up of anti-City sentiment. The British government has also tolerated or even embraced a tidal wave of EU rules, nearly of them flawed or disastrous. Hedge funds, private equity, insurers and now accountancy firms have all been hammered; new pan-EU regulators have been created. The coalition’s original aim was to shrink the City; then to shrink it as a share of GDP; now, with manufacturing in recession again, it has suddenly realised that it must find growth and jobs wherever they are created. Fine – but it shouldn’t pretend that it has always been the City’s best friend.
So what could or should Cameron have done? It is actually, very easy. He should have said that the European Council is not the proper body to discuss such matters; the proper body is the IGC - even if it consists of the same people, it is a different body, summoned differently with a different mandate and accountability. He should have insisted on a full IGC and a completely new treaty as the changes that are being introduced require one. That would have taken a longish time, as I said above; would have required a good deal of negotiation and discussion in the various countries, including Britain; would then have required unanimity (chance for a veto); and would have had to go through all the stages of implementation. The colleagues would not have liked it; they did not want it; and they managed to avoid it. They will now have their agreement, which will not be called a new treaty and Britain will be sent a copy but it and whatever legislation comes out of it will still be binding. Will there even have to be Parliamentary legislation as there was with every previous treaty? Certainly the referendum lock will not be activated.
Game, set and match to them, I think.
Just one more thing: the markets will re-open on Monday and they, too, will have a say and will go on having a say, unlike Mr Cameron.